Pearls can be daunting, so much so that I have been meaning to write this post for over a week due to lack of a logical place to start.
I suppose historical would be good. History always intrigues me.
Historically man looked for salt water pearls, so much so that finding a pearl was likened in Art, especially in the high renaissance. Think "Birth of Venus" by Botticelli. (Birth of Venus Wiki Page) While of course this rendition in art is a far cry from the actual myth of the birth of Venus, it is still important to note how she was viewed in the painting. The goddess of beauty, being born from the fruit that brings us also that prized possession of a perfect salt water pearl? Surely it would grip the imagination of jewelry makers world wide.
Further than just the depiction in Art of Pearls, or where we get pure white pearls, think to later artistic ages. The Baroque. Why do we call some fresh water pearls baroque--well historically and etymologically it is only fitting. And don't forget more modern adaptations of high middle ages and renaissance work--like Anne Boleyn's famous "B" Pearl necklace in "The Other Boleyn Girl" (Film and Book). (I am certain it is spelled Boelyn--but it comes up that way too.)
(Boleyn Reproduction Necklace) I have not really perused this site--but it is a neat reproduction.
The term baroque has its origins in the description of none other than a pearl. (Etymology of "Baroque"). While Baroque became a word denoting 'grotesque' it is also, uneven, irregular in shape, and by no means perfect. Now we say baroque to give a description of a less than perfect, yet unique piece, or in my case strand of pearls--because if nothing I am a formal traditionalist.
(Green Gold Baroque Freshwater Pearls)
Now I suppose I shall research Salt and Freshwater Pearls...
Although before I do that here is a good article on quality: Pearl Guide